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Venezuelan government proposes grocery fingerprint system to combat shortages

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2014 file photo, a woman walks downtown after buying bread in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuelans may soon have to scan their fingers to buy bread at the supermarket. President Nicolas Maduro announced late Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 a new, mandatory grocery fingerprinting system to combat food shortages. In the spring, Venezuela tried a similar system in government-run supermarkets on a voluntary basis. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

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FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2014 file photo, a woman walks downtown after buying bread in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuelans may soon have to scan their fingers to buy bread at the supermarket. President Nicolas Maduro announced late Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 a new, mandatory grocery fingerprinting system to combat food shortages. In the spring, Venezuela tried a similar system in government-run supermarkets on a voluntary basis. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelans soon may need to have their fingerprints scanned before they can buy bread.

President Nicolas Maduro has announced a mandatory grocery fingerprinting system to combat food shortages.

He said late Wednesday the program will stop people from buying too much of a single item, but did not say when it would take effect.

The move was met with skepticism. Critics say the new system is tantamount to rationing, and constitutes a breach of privacy.

The socialist South American country has been grappling with shortages of basics like cooking oil and flour for more than a year. The administration blames the shortages on companies speculating and people smuggling subsidized staples out of the country.

In the spring, Venezuela tried a similar system in government-run supermarkets on a voluntary basis.

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